White House, Mattis deny report he urged Trump to get Congress's approval on Syria strikes

White House, Mattis deny report he urged Trump to get Congress's approval on Syria strikes
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The White House and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths Pentagon watchdog probing whether acting chief boosted Boeing Overnight Defense: Judge says Trump can't implement transgender policy | Trump floats admitting Brazil to NATO | Mattis returning to Stanford MORE are refuting a report that Mattis urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE to seek congressional approval last week before striking Syria.

“Reports that Secretary Mattis urged the president to seek congressional approval before last week’s strikes in Syria are categorically false,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “As Secretary Mattis explained to Congress in yesterday’s all-member briefs, the president appropriately ordered the strikes under his constitutional authorities.”

Sanders’s statement follows Mattis’s own denial at the Pentagon.


“I have no idea where that story came from,” Mattis told reporters at the top of a meeting with the Qatari defense minister. “I found nothing in it that I could recall from my own last week’s activities.”

At issue is a Tuesday night New York Times report that said Mattis wanted Trump to get congressional approval before ordering a missile strike on Syria but was overruled by the president, who wanted quick and dramatic action. The story cited unnamed military and administration officials.

On Friday night, the United States, along with the United Kingdom and France, launched 105 missiles at three targets linked to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons program. The strike was done in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack the West has blamed on Assad.

The administration contends that Trump had the authority to carry out the strikes under Article II of the Constitution, which allows the president to use military force to protect the national interest from immediate threats.

But many Democrats and some Republicans disagree, saying the administration’s interpretation would give the president almost unlimited war powers.

Rather, the lawmakers argue, Trump needed to come to Congress to get approval for the strikes as the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war.